Blue Wave in Washoe, Clark; rurals stick with GOP

Clark County Commission Chair and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Sisolak celebrates with supporters Wednesday in Las Vegas.

Clark County Commission Chair and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Sisolak celebrates with supporters Wednesday in Las Vegas.

The “Blue Wave” was far stronger in Nevada than in the rest of the nation, but it was almost completely confined to Clark and Washoe counties.

Voters in those two counties put Democrats over the top in major races including the hotly contested governor’s race between Democrat Steve Sisolak and Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt and the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Dean Heller and Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen.

Sisolak won his contest by 4 percentage points. Rosen won her race by a solid 5 percent.

Statewide turnout this cycle was 62.1 percent with 969,655 voters going to the polls.

In both the top races, the victor carried only Clark and Washoe counties with the loser claiming a majority in the remaining 15 counties. But, since Clark and Washoe are home to more than 90 percent of Nevada voters, it was enough.

One exception to the wave was Rep. Mark Amodei in Congressional District 2. He outpolled Democrat Clint Koble 58-42 percent. While Koble won a small margin in Washoe County, rural voters strongly supported Amodei for a fourth full term.

Nevada’s other three congressional seats all went to Democrats including CD3 where newcomer Susie Lee handed perennial candidate Danny Tarkanian his sixth loss in six attempts to win public office.

In the remaining races, Dina Titus easily won another term representing CD1 and Steven Horsford won a return to the seat he held in 2012-2014.

In the Attorney General’s race, Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford clung to a 1 percent edge over former Assemblyman and First Assistant Attorney General Wes Duncan in a race that had yet to be resolved Wednesday afternoon. As with Senate and governor, the only counties Ford won were Clark and Washoe, but he won big enough to give him the lead.

Former Treasurer Kate Marshall beat outgoing Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson in the lieutenant governor’s race. Zach Conine held a narrow lead over former Assemblyman and Las Vegas councilman Bob Beers in the race for state Treasurer that was also unresolved Wednesday.

If the margins in the Attorney General and Treasurer races hold, the only Republican statewide candidate to survive the onslaught will be Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske who squeaked past former Assemblyman Nelson Araujo by less than 2 percent.

The only other incumbent on the statewide ballot was Controller Ron Knecht of Carson City who lost by more than 4 percent to Catherine Byrne, a longtime employee of the controller’s office and a CPA. She said her goal is to refocus the office on the accounting needs of Nevada.

She also wants legislation to give state employees collective bargaining rights.

But in western and rural Nevada, Republicans, especially incumbents, did well. Carson City’s Al Kramer easily won a second term representing District 40 and Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, whose District 16 contains south Washoe County, Incline and Carson City, won a third term.

Ira Hansen successfully moved from Assembly to the Senate in District 14, vacated by retiring Don Gustavson. His wife, Alexis, claimed his Assembly seat in District 32.

They’re believed to be the first married couple to serve simultaneously in the Nevada Legislature. Prior to this, Dawn Gibbons filled in for her husband Jim when he was activated as a pilot during Desert Storm but they didn’t serve together.

Sen. James Settelmeyer of Gardnerville had little trouble winning another term, collecting 72 percent of the vote to Curtis Cannon’s 28 percent.

Republicans in conservative southern Washoe legislative districts did well, too, as voters returned Assembly members Jill Tolles and Lisa Krasner in Reno Districts 25 and 26 respectively.

Several Assembly Democrats were unopposed for re-election including Reno’s Teresa Benitez-Thompson, Mike Sprinkle of Sparks and Edgar Flores and Heidi Swank of Clark County. Newcomer Assefa Alexander of Las Vegas was also elected without opposition.

Republicans John Ellison of Elko and Robin Titus of Wellington were also re-elected without an opponent.

Altogether, there will be 13 new faces in the Assembly. And Democrats, riding that Blue Wave especially in the south, claimed a veto-proof majority in the lower house with 28 of the 42 seats.

Nye, Lincoln and Clark county commissioners will have to select a Republican for District 36. Brothel operator Dennis Hoff won that race by a margin of 63-37 despite the fact he died last month.

At the same time, Democrats increased their Senate majority to 13 of 21. But two of those seats are vacant until the Clark County Commission appoints replacements for Aaron Ford and Tick Segerblom. Both were halfway through their four-year terms. Segerblom won a seat as a Clark County Commissioner and Ford is the apparent winner as Attorney General.

When those two seats are filled, there will be seven new senators in the body. Three of the seven are former lawmakers simply moving from Assembly to Senate and one, Democrat Marilyn Dondero-Loop, a former Assembly member. The other Assembly transfers are Democrat James Ohrenschall and Republicans Hansen and Keith Pickard. The only other new face in the Senate is Melanie Scheible in Clark County’s District 9.


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